The Value of Partnership in a Global Pandemic

Procede pivots to provide certainty to customers in uncertain times.

As the COVID-19 global pandemic continues to impact every aspect of our daily lives, both at work and home, I’m pleased to see that the heavy-duty trucking industry has, once again, been thrust back into the spotlight. Truck drivers, who under ordinary circumstances endure incredible hardship to make sure people across the globe have the food, medicine, and other essential supplies they need, have long been the unsung heroes of the supply chain. Now, in these extraordinary times, many are literally risking their lives, and the world is taking notice. Not only have America’s truck drivers recently been honored at the White House, traditional news media have applauded both drivers and the industry as a whole, as these articles in Wired and The Daily Beast demonstrate.

At Procede Software, we recognize the important work our dealership customers do to keep drivers and their vehicles on the road, and we’re proud and humbled to support them in that mission. It’s a driving force behind everything we do, and my deepest hope is that our customers see that manifest through our commitment to their success. That’s why, as talk of travel restrictions and shelter-in-place guidelines first came to the forefront, the Procede team closely monitored the situation and actively developed contingency plans, anticipating that we would soon be called upon to work in a very different way. It was this foresight that helped us meet one of the first challenges we encountered as much of California shut down and workers pivoted from in-office to home: a planned Excede DMS implementation at seven Roberts Truck Center locations across Texas and New Mexico.

Just as the Procede Software team was making final preparations for the implementation—an effort that would typically see more than a dozen members of the Procede team onsite at various locations, providing hands-on training to more than eighty members of the Roberts team—work-from-home guidance was issued in California. It was in the midst of settling into this new normal, both with work and family life, that the Procede team stepped up and partnered closely with the Roberts Truck Center team, virtually collaborating to make sure that each location was prepared as planned for a successful go-live and could continue in their vital work of keeping truck drivers on the road.

A New, Model for Delivering “White Glove” Service

Over the years Procede has developed a comprehensive, “white-glove” implementation service model to ensure users are up-and-running on day one of go-live. The model consists of extensive, pre-implementation training delivered both virtually and in-person, as well as robust, onsite support throughout the actual go-live. The experienced team at Roberts Truck Center was completely aligned with these practices. They understood the importance of upfront training and were well on the way to seeing it through. Because of this, when the call was made to take the implementation remote, perhaps the biggest challenge both teams faced was how to compensate for having people onsite who could look over users’ shoulders, guide them, teach them shortcuts, and importantly, provide extra attention to people who were struggling.

Ultimately, we took a multi-pronged approach: in addition to regularly scheduled check-in calls that covered both pre-planned topics and allowed time for open questions, Procede team members were on the line at all times to troubleshoot in real time. As Allan R. Ash, President and Chief Operating Officer, Roberts Truck Center, puts it, “The Procede team was there every step of the way—albeit, in our case, remotely. We made arrangements for Procede personnel to have access to our employees’ computers and prepared our staff to work with the Procede team via telephone, instead of having them onsite and able to look over our shoulders.”

Further, Roberts assigned a subject matter expert from each of their departments who could answer questions directly or level them up to the Procede team. These people also stepped up to be our eyes and ears on the ground—looking out for users who were struggling and connecting them with Procede resources to get them on their feet.

Lessons Learned from a Remote Implementation

While we learned many lessons large and small throughout this process, there are a few key takeaways that are worth noting. First, it takes strong leadership on both sides to drive success. As Ash expressed—and I echo wholeheartedly—“Every DMS conversion requires strong leadership at the dealership. Daniel Bilson, our CFO took the lead for us at Roberts. He ensured our team’s communications were robust and ultimately deserves credit for a very successful implementation and conversion.”

Second, preparation is everything. From the outset of the engagement, long before we realized this would be an entirely remote installation, both teams were committed to advanced preparation. Over the years, Procede has finetuned a focused, pre-implementation educational process. As part of this, we provided Roberts with a “sandbox”—a fully functional, simulated environment where users can practice their usual daily activities. The Roberts Truck Center team, for their part, made sure their employees participated in training and used the sandbox to make sure they had the fundamental skills necessary to do their job as soon as the software went live.

As Ash describes it, “Having been a part of several DMS conversions in my career, I knew how important the training and setup would be to our ultimate success. We beat the drum loud and often regarding making sure all employees participated in the training provided and completed their assignments prior to conversion. Having a live sandbox/test database in which to work prior to going live was a major advantage and contributed heavily to our ultimate success.”

Third, communication is critical. From the get-go, the Procede Software team engaged the Roberts Truck Center team in discussions and planning. The decision to implement Excede DMS remotely was mutual, and everyone was aware that it meant doing things differently. Open, honest communication delivered via check-ins, and the willingness to hear feedback and make adjustments were critical to the success of the endeavor.

Success Powered by Partnership

Perhaps the biggest takeaway that I want to share with you is the fundamental power of partnership. It’s the underpinning of any successful relationship, and a foundational tool necessary for a positive outcome in any implementation, but particularly one that is wholly remote. I have made clear how incredibly proud I am of the Procede team for their commitment to this endeavor, but without an equal commitment, trust and understanding from the entire Roberts Truck Center team, this would have been far more challenging, and I would hazard to say, perhaps less successful. I have deep gratitude for their exceptional partnership at a time when the entire country was in need.

Further, I’m happy to report that thanks to this partnership with Roberts Truck Center and the leadership and commitment of the Procede team, we have established a model that will see us—and more importantly see our customers—through this challenging time. For the time being, we have more remote implementations in the works. Looking well into the future, there are lessons learned that we plan to carry forward, even when circumstances again permit us the luxury of being together onsite.

Personally, and speaking on behalf of the Procede Software team as a whole, we are proud to be a part of this industry and humbled to be able to support in some small way the important work our dealership customers do in support of their customers, both fleets and individual drivers. And while much has changed during this unprecedented time, requiring us all to work differently, one thing has not changed—our commitment to serving you. If there is anything you need, the committed, creative individuals that make up the Procede Software team stand ready to meet you where you are, to pivot where necessary, and to do whatever it takes to help your business succeed, so that your focus can remain on your business and your customers, the men and women on the front lines, delivering the goods necessary to power essential services.

In best health,
Larry Kettler, CEO
lkettler@procedesoftware.com